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Medicine Science

Studies Show Testosterone Offers Little Benefits To Aging Men (arstechnica.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In decades of research, scientists have found only one medical condition that's clearly and effectively treated with testosterone supplements: pathological hypogonadism -- that's low testosterone levels due to disease of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testes. In a series of placebo-controlled, randomized trials, researchers tracked the effect of testosterone on the cognition, bone health, anemia, and cardiovascular health of 788 men for a year. All the men were aged 65 or older and had low testosterone levels that couldn't be explained by anything other than age. The results, reported Tuesday in JAMA and JAMA Internal Medicine, offer mixed results. Among the 493 in the trial who also had age-related memory declines, testosterone didn't have any effect on memory or cognitive abilities. In the study, 247 got testosterone and 246 got a placebo. But for cardiovascular health, there was an effect -- a bad one. Over the year, plaque buildup in the coronary artery -- which is a risk factor for heart disease -- increased in 73 men on testosterone compared with 65 on placebo. However, other studies have found mixed results on this. Longer, bigger trials will be needed to sort out the risks. In the anemia study, testosterone did seem to improve iron levels in men with mild anemia. The bone health study also showed that testosterone could improve bone density. However, it's unclear if those benefits outweigh the possible cardiovascular risks. And other drugs may be more effective at treating anemia and improving bone mass than testosterone.
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Studies Show Testosterone Offers Little Benefits To Aging Men

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    As someone on TRT I can't imagine coming off. If it helps older men as much as it has helped me with my lethargy and depression, there is no reason to deny them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. I am in my late 40s. Been on t a couple of years. It is fantastic. Everything is better on t.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @06:18AM (#53910311)

    You know - the reasons people actually have for taking testosterone. Nobody takes testosterone for anemia or 'bone health'. It is always about muscle & sex.

    • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:20AM (#53910431)

      This was exactly my first impression.

      And these are not easily dismissed reasons. Muscle mass is important as you move into your 70's and 80's for more than vanity.

      I wish our obsession with sports didn't taint this area so much. So there's a couple of thousand people who would like to take steroids and hormones to enhance their chances in athletics at the top level.... big deal. There are tens of million of people who would love to have a safe and effective way to convert a couple of pounds of fat into muscle and improve the resiliency of their tendons and ligaments.

      When I was in grad school back around 1990 there was a study on genetically obese rabbits that showed that doses of angesterone had a dramatic effect on the male rabbits. They didn't lose weight, but they converted fat to muscle without exercise. And they had a reduction in heart and coronary disease. And they had an increase in libido. All with small doses of angesterone.

      Now, I don't know where that led. But how many people would line up for a pill or shot that would convert fat to muscle without exercise, make your heart healthier and increase your sex drive? But it gets squashed as an area of medicine because of fears of doping in sports.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I would like to duplicate these studies, and have purchased fat rabbits. Where might one find this angesterone you speak of?

        If I had, say 25 rabbits each weighing 10 pounds exactly, how much angesterone would need to be purchased to perform the experiment on all 25?

        • All these are generally called steroids. Doping in sports fears are not all that exaggerated.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I took steroids for arthritis for a while. It's not a simple thing, you have to monitor your use carefully and get regular checks. The increased libido was actually quite annoying, although I guess if you are starting from a point of reduced libido it might get you back to normal.

        You need to be in otherwise reasonably good health before starting steroids. I wasn't and it caused various undesirable side effects. I think that's the main reason they are not more widely prescribed. Even if you start off okay, i

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, but you get a hard-on whenever you hear the Soviet National Anthem, which you always have on repeat at high volume during your lovemaking, amirite?

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Nobody takes testosterone for anemia or 'bone health'. It is always about muscle & sex.

      How little you know and how eager you are to share.
      I was prescribed testosterone for osteoporosis, and I'm certain that orthopedists prescribe it to far more than "nobody".

      • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <nosduharabrab>> on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:31AM (#53911013) Journal

        We talk about osteoporosis in women, where 34% of all women will at one point in their lives break a hip, but in men it''s far worse - 56%. And 1 out of 10 people who fractures their hip never goes home. If taking a pill can avoid spending the rest of your life in long-term care, it's probably worth the risks. Quality of life is paramount.

        The easy way to find out is get a bone density scan on your spine and femur. (the ones that just do the forearm or heal are bs in comparison). It will alert you to osteopenia [wikipedia.org] as well as osteoporosis.

        More studies are needed because the effects of hormones can vary greatly depending on the individual, as well as at what point in their life they're at. Identifying those who would benefit while ruling out those at greatest risk (or better yet, treating them like adults and letting them make the decision after being given all the information - you know, "informed consent", rather than "no, we've decided it's too risky for you, take our word for it").

    • The commercials I've seen have promoted it as a panacea, it'll fix your dick, your brain, and everything else.

      To be fair, we really didn't need studies showing those commercials were bullshit. If you're capable of understanding the slashdot summary, you would have already been able to tell it was bullshit.
    • Nobody takes testosterone for anemia or 'bone health'. It is always about muscle & sex.

      Here's a nice little article about testosterone:

      http://blogs.christianpost.com... [christianpost.com]

  • waaat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @06:19AM (#53910315)

    Over the year, plaque buildup in the coronary artery -- which is a risk factor for heart disease -- increased in 73 men on testosterone compared with 65 on placebo. However, other studies have found mixed results on this

    What are you smoking? 73 against 65 IS a mixed result!

    73/247 against 65/246 is 29% against 26%. An increased risk of 11% in a small sample is well within bounds of expected variance.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ease off the testosterone, buddy!
      It's affecting your ability to skew numbers!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:00AM (#53910397)

    My trophy husband doesn't need any testosterone, I only married him for his fat wallet, and I fuck young guys I meet at the gym.

  • Well duh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Testosterone is a cost you have to pay for the survival of the species, it has only bad effects on the long term,but a short term gain in building bigger, stronger, faster, more aggressive bodies at an early stage. The hormones for females help combat the fact they have to survive with a foreign body compromising their immune system.

    Why do you think women live longer and healthier than men? Testosterone only builds for the young survival. Because men have to win fights or they don't get to pass on their gen

    • Thats fine by me (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      I'd sooner have a few years less life due to testosterone than be as physically weak as most women are. Even the ones I see down the gym seem to have little more strength than I did when I was maybe 12 or 13. I can't imagine being that feeble all your life.

    • Testosterone is a cost you have to pay for the survival of the species, it has only bad effects on the long term

      Uh, what bad effects does natural testosterone have? Wikipedia seems to think the opposite [wikipedia.org]:

      maintaining normal testosterone levels in elderly men has been shown to improve many parameters that are thought to reduce cardiovascular disease risk, such as increased lean body mass, decreased visceral fat mass, decreased total cholesterol, and glycemic control

  • Not just testosterone. but also *all* snake oil remedies benefit ageing men. The snake oil hawkers are overwhelmingly ageing men. They benefit a lot. In fact, for many, it is their meal ticket.

  • It's well known that there is increased risk of hypogonadism...but the risk is far outweighed by the benefits.

    When these studies eventually test men on TRT for how they FEEL, if they are stronger, more athletic, look leaner, got back to prime form/performance etc. You know the reasons that they got TRT to begin with!

    Who the fuck cares if TRT may be bad for hair loss? -testosterone related hair loss happens to men that never bother with T boosters or treatment and in your 40s or 50s who cares about that
  • Part of the problem with TRT is the definition of low tester one is somewhat nebulous. I am not sure there has been a lab range accepted age-adjusted testosterone levels. Typically the most commonly accepted medical reason is when a man comes in with a non-typical fracture [webmd.com] (hip, vertebral body etc...) then we tend to look at testosterone levels.

    Other than that...indications for use are sketchy.

    In addition, anyone who has been around and doesn't have an agenda or bias would be wise to remember the fiasco wit

    • The "scandal" with ERT (Estrogen Replacement Therapy) was bullshit of the first degree. The Women's Health Initiative study was seriously flawed, used horse estrogen and horse progestins with over 50 impurities exclusively that would not be approved under current FDA rules (not human-identical estrogens), had a strong selection bias towards women who were far from good candidates (far too many older, obese women than representative of the population, most had been post-menopausal for a LONG tim), and the ma

  • The heading describes little benefits of testosterone, but then the body only lists one little benefit: it helps with pathological hypogonadism. What are the other little benefits testosterone supplementation offers?
  • The studies were conducted by military doctors in a MASH unit, but it was more than just lining up field personnel to give them so-called malaria vaccine or STD protection (penis-sealin' as the privates continued testing their privates on the unsuspectin' infectin' whores)

    The Rolling Stones were visiting, and one of the surgeons concocted this scheme just to get a private performance of Mick and the band in the MASH unit "to lift the morale" of the wounded.

    The Stones were knocked unconscious and the testosterone shots were administered, with their consent and the patients being witnesses. The Stones were going to go public with these unofficial tests. Unfortunately Altamonte happened, and the rest is history. When they tried revealing the test results, it was drowned out by the media wildfire from Hells Angels at Altamonte.

    You can make this shit up.

  • by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:34AM (#53911031)

    All I can say is duh at the results of the study. Most doctors, who are not endocrinologists, don't understand that the the androgen cycle is a negative feedback loop. That means that if you are a heathy adult on TRT your body will compensate for the extra testosterone in your body by producing less testosterone in your gonads. Any endocrinologist worth their salt knows this. This is why you never take TRT if you are trying to have children, because TRT can make you sterile by halting testosterone production in the gonads. You need to take clomid instead of TRT if you want to get around this negative feedback cycle.

  • ...that studies are invariably wrong. Until another study shows that the "wrong" study was actually correct.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      ...that studies are invariably wrong. Until another study shows that the "wrong" study was actually correct.

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @01:01PM (#53911911) Homepage Journal

    A long history of not working particularly well. And testosterone hacking is the grand-daddy of them all. You know all those steampunk-y horror stories about rich Victorian eccentrics who go mad because they implanted monkey testicles into themselves in a bid to achieve eternal youth? People actually did that [wikipedia.org].

    There's a thin line... or rather let's say a fork in the road between pseudoscience and science. I think they both start in the same, non-scientific place. And that place is a kind of magical thinking. It's what happens after the initial inspiration that makes the difference between science and pseudoscience.

    Testosterone is higher in men than women, an in particular higher in young men, and higher in men who achieve social dominance. It also rises after sexual intercourse. So by magical thinking [wikipedia.org] testosterone must be the "manliness" hormone; it makes you young, vigorous, dominant and sexually potent.

    There's nothing wrong with that as a starting point, but in the long history of testosterone hacking it hasn't worked out, except for gaining muscle mass in conjunction with resistance training. Sure if you treat men with a testosterone blocker they'll eventually lose interest in sex, men generally have less sex as they get older, and at the same time their testosterone levels decrease. So it's natural to jump to the conclusion of a chain of causality: worn out old glands put out less testosterone, and that causes a reduction in interest in sex. But if you actually test that hypothesis, it doesn't work out: individuals with least decline in testosterone levels actually have less sex than their normal counterparts. The normal decline isn't large enough to produce on its own any measurable effect in interest in sex. So if your interest in sex is dropping as you get older, look elsewhere for the cause.

    This is the danger of calling testosterone "the male sex hormone", as if God had a punch list of features He wanted and implemented each feature with a single steroid compound that works in isolation from everything else. Yes, testosterone is involved in masculinization of adolescents, but it's not as simple as the more testosterone you are, the more male you are. The endocrine system is complex and dynamic, responding to internal and external changes -- including aging. Both men and women have and need testosterone and estrogen, in ways we don't fully understand yet.

    If you want to get the most out of your life, eat a variety of real food in moderation, exercise, sleep, and in general alternate stress with rest. The ancient Greeks could have told you that, and in thousands of years we have not been able yet to improve on that as far as lifestyle advice is concerned. Go to your doctor if you're sick or injured, or even for a testosterone treatement if you have abnormally low testosterone for your age. But don't go to the doctor for a magic pill that will make you youthful, manly, sexy and dynamic. All that's up to you.

  • Few benefits. Or little benefit.

System checkpoint complete.